Mark Zuckerberg covers his laptop camera with a piece of tape. But what signal does it send to everyone who has a home security camera?
If hackers seem to be capable of breaching the laptop of the tech genius who invented Facebook, can they do it to everyone else?
Under the right circumstances, yes. If you post your email and password publicly, even a ten-year-old could hack and read your emails. But that doesn’t happen too often.
In reality, hackers are more often interested in the big fish like Zuckerberg. He’s a massive target for cybercriminals, and they’d go all the way to get a fraction of his net worth.
For everyone else, the situation is less dire. But there’s still a danger. Every device connected to the internet can be hacked. Security cameras too. In fact, in 2020, a hacker group breached 50,000 devices and posted clips of undressed people on porn websites.
In another case, an ADT technician spied on women for years and watched them undress and have sex.
It’s scary to think that someone could be watching you in your most intimate moments, in the privacy of your own home. Sure, security camera companies have taken the necessary measures to close the exploits, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t new ones.
How vulnerable is your home security camera?
What happened to ADT was a wake-up call for many companies. They immediately addressed vulnerabilities in their own devices to ensure such a situation never happens again.
Home security cameras from reputable companies come with high-end encryption. This guarantees that, by using special keys, only you can see what the camera recorded.
Everything that happens online gets translated into binary code, meaning ones and zeroes. The video from the camera turns into binary code, and then the ones and zeroes get mixed up through encryption. Even if a hacker intercepts your communication with the camera, they will see a scrambled message. When the ones and zeroes reach your phone or laptop, your device uses a private key to return them to their original format.
Home security companies have tight measures to ensure only customers can view their video feed. In the case of troubleshooting, customers must allow access to agents, which happens for a limited time. Plus, more companies allow DIY setups, and technicians are becoming obsolete.
So, home security companies are doing everything in their power to keep hackers at bay and spying eyes away from your camera.
Can your home security camera get hacked?
The short answer is yes. But it all depends on your emphasis on cybersecurity and how old the camera you’re using is.
Here’s how cybercriminals can hack your camera.
The easiest way is to do that locally. That’s if someone is in the near vicinity of the Wi-Fi network the camera is connected to. And they also need to know your Wi-Fi password. So be careful when telling your hacker friends how to connect to your Wi-Fi. Just kidding.
Hackers can jam your wireless network, spoof it, or brute force the password. Whenever a local camera hack happens, it’s usually because the Wi-Fi security is weak. If your router isn’t secure, then all of your IoT devices can be hacked.
Luckily, these kinds of attacks are rare and probably won’t happen to you. The hacker would need to come close to your house to initiate them. The real threat comes in the form of remote hacks.
A third-party incident, like the one that happened to Delta or Equifax, can affect you, too. When a massive corporation suffers a data breach, its customer data leaks to the dark web. Hackers can take the breached login credentials and do harm. That’s why it’s so important to change your passwords every once in a while.
It doesn’t matter what kind of cybersecurity measures you take if your username and password are out in public. But changing your passwords all the time is a nuisance. It’s hard to constantly learn new ones. Use a password manager to create and store new passwords without forgetting them.
Another way you can be hacked is if you use bootleg cameras. There are hundreds of different security companies, but only a dozen are reputable. If you order a five-dollar camera from China and it does the same job as a $150 version, you’re probably being watched.
Finally, remember to change the default password and username when you install your home security devices. Keeping the default credentials is like giving candy to a baby. Hackers will always take it.
Has your camera been hacked?
It’s tough to notice if a camera has been hacked, especially if you’re using a baby monitor.
One of the easiest ways to notice this is if the camera moves around when you leave the room while you look at it from a blind spot. If a hacker is controlling the movement, they could slip up and make a mistake.
Another telling sign is the device suddenly having poor performance. Sure, this isn’t guaranteed. Your internet could be slow that day, or it might be windy outside, and you have a poor connection.
But many cameras don’t have too much memory. And if they get hacked, the CPU becomes easily overloaded and drastically reduces the performance.
How to protect your home?
The likelihood of getting hacked is low but never zero. To keep a peaceful mind, keep cameras outside of the bathroom and the bedroom. Instead, direct them to entry points such as hallways and doors. In the case of a breach, at least no sensitive data will leak.
Next comes using a virtual private network (VPN). What is a VPN? It can be your best friend when it comes to fending off hackers. It’s a tool that encrypts your data, changes your IP address, and makes it much more difficult for cybercriminals to target you.
On top of that, only buy devices from reputable manufacturers. It doesn’t matter if it’s a DIY setup or if you need professional monitoring. Make sure to check whether the cameras you get have high-level encryption.
Whenever there’s an update for the software, accept it immediately. Its main purpose isn’t always to improve the video quality. Be patient and spare those few minutes to get the update installed, as it may introduce a new security patch to keep your data safe.
Finally, change the password of your Wi-Fi and the camera every once in a while.